CILA’s Bite-Sized Tips for New Practitioners & Pro Bono Attorneys


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Tip: Practice with intention. Identify resources available to you and bookmark them, so you can easily access resources and information. Whether it is the relevant  law, policy guidance, or other resources that will help you stay up to date, know that there are resources that can help. Watch this video to learn more on this tip.
Related CILA Resource: “Helpful Resources in Representing Unaccompanied Children”

CILA staff came together to offer seven  bite-sized tips for new practitioners. Whether you are new to immigration law or working on a pro bono case, CILA hopes this resource provides some insight and practical guidance to assist you as you work with a child or youth in an immigration case. Read the short tip summaries, watch the accompanying short videos (about three to eight minutes each) providing more information, and read or watch the related CILA resource to learn more.

Tip: It is important to consider potential supportive evidence in case development for asylum cases. There are multiple different types of potential evidence for an asylum case. Use resources available to help you gather evidence, find potential experts, and stay organized. Watch this video to learn more.
Related CILA Resources: “Country Conditions Compilation: Conditions for LGBTQIA+ Children & Youth in Seven Countries” and “Asylum Case Theory and Evidence Matrix”
Tip: Always go to the code! When conducting research in immigration law, it is best practice to start by going to the code, 8 U.S.C.—the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This should be the starting point before diving into an issue. Watch this video to learn more on this research tip.
Related CILA Resources: “Helpful Resources in Representing Unaccompanied Children” and CILA Pro Bono Guide: Working with Children and Youth in Immigration Cases
Tip: Remember in asylum cases, the importance of storytelling and honoring your client’s voice when telling that story. Take a collaborative approach. Use the client’s declaration as a roadmap to determine what evidence to gather. Also, remember to take a step back to ensure that everything makes sense together. Watch this video to learn more on this tip.
Related CILA Resource: “Trauma-Informed Representation in Asylum Cases: Asylum Interview & Asylum Merits Hearing Checklists”
Tip: Preparing your client for a court hearing is key, especially when representing a child. Explain what to expect and court protocols in advance. You can explain this information to your client, as well as to the child’s parent or caretaker, if relevant. Watch this video to learn more about how to prepare your client for court.
Related CILA Resources: “Tips for Working with Children and Youth Remotely in a Hearing or USCIS Asylum Office Interview” and “How to Prepare for an Individual Hearing: Different Practitioners’ Perspectives”
Tip: Templates can be helpful, as they can give you a sense of what a particular court filing should look like. But a word of caution: know what you are filing. Remember that even when you have access to a reliable template, you should make sure to individualize all court filings so that they fit your specific client’s case and needs, and to do your own research. The law changes frequently. Watch this video to learn more.
Related CILA Resource: “SIJS Texas 101: An Overview of State Court Proceedings for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” recorded webinar and CILA Advocate Login to access templates (TX practitioners only because TX law specific)
Tip: This tip is about you. Remember your self-care. Everyone needs self-care. It is not selfish. Self-care is about self-compassion. Superheroes only exist in the movies. Real-life heroes are those who are brave enough to recognize their imperfections and when they need help. Embrace the vulnerability as this comes from a place of strength. Watch this video to learn some important tips and reminders about self-care.
Related CILA Resource: “Secondary Traumatic Stress and Self-Care” recorded webinar covers signs, impacts, and how to prevent or mitigate the effects of burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary traumatic stress and the webinar handout includes more resources